Media Release: Energy Crisis 'Crept Up' on Government - Treasury Secretary
9.00am | March 02, 2017
THE HON MARK BUTLER MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY
MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
DEPUTY CHAIR, SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE RESILIENCE OF ELECTRICITY INFRASTRUCTURE IN A WARMING WORLD
The Prime Minister has been caught out making energy policy on the run. Under questioning from Senator McAllister, Treasury Secretary John Fraser revealed that the government had been surprised by the energy crisis, and there was no Treasury analysis supporting the government’s plan for new coal generation.
McAllister: As part of your energy analysis, have you performed any analysis on the cost of new coal-fired power stations compared to alternatives?
Fraser: No we haven’t.
McAllister: Have you formed a view on why so many industry players dismiss new coal plants as a viable option for new generation in Australia?
Fraser: No I haven’t. We’re consulting as widely as we can. It’s a very important issue and like everybody, it has crept up on us.
Treasury officials later confirmed that they have “done no work specifically on the Australian gas market”, and that the relevant group only started looking at energy in depth “three months ago”.
Further evidence from the Australia Energy Regulator confirmed that the problems facing the South Australian power prices were affected by long standing grid issues, not renewable energy. In fact they confirmed that wind power use in South Australia “puts downward pressure on price.”
“Almost three quarters of Australia’s fossil fuel power stations are now operating beyond their 30 or 40 year design life. It’s impossible to see how this issue could have ‘crept up’ on anyone. That’s like being crept up on by a glacier,” said Senator McAllister.
“This government has been talking about coal for weeks, but hasn’t bothered to ask Treasury to undertake basic analysis.”
Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler, said “This Prime Minister’s obsession with coal is not supported by analysis. It is driven by ideology and is distracting him from the national energy crisis enveloping Australia.
“This Government is ignoring the impending gas crisis putting jobs and energy affordability at risk.
“Australian households and businesses desperately need real energy policy but this paralysed Government cannot deliver.”
THURSDAY, 2 MARCH 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: LUCY CARUSO (BUTLER) 0408 803 428
LYNDAL HOWISON (MCALLISTER) 0404 854 033